It’s no secret the digital marketing scenery is constantly changing.
Every day, new technologies are invented and applications are discovered, leading to a much more data-driven approach that not only automates many of the mundane tasks, but also targets audiences with much greater accuracy, based on data collection, observation, and analytics.
In this article, I went back to over 50 interviews that I hosted with digital marketing professionals from all over the world, and picked 10 of the most interesting answers that I got to questions like:
- Where is the industry is going?
- What trends and technologies should we look out for in the coming years?
- What does the future hold for digital marketing?
Just like my previous post about how to get digital marketing right, and given that digital marketing is such a huge topic, I decided to divide the answers based on categories. From mobile marketing and ASO to eCommerce and AI automation.
Keep scrolling to find out what industry professionals think about the future of digital marketing!
How do you see the future of mobile in 5 years from today?
We’ve seen a few major trends in the past years. One of them is that Google and Facebook are getting more market share and power. They obviously will continue to be very dominant, but there’s also a lot of media opportunities outside of this duo, like ad networks and other social channels like SnapChat and Pinterest. I think we will see more consolidation of the smaller networks, eating each other to become bigger and compete with the other big players.
Another trend is that two years ago there was a sort of bubble burst of mobile fraud. Mobile measure companies like Appsflyer and Adjust revealed that a significant portion of all mobile media is actually fraud. The industry is getting better at identifying fraud, but it’s still an issue that requires the advertisers’ attention. This trend will not be eliminated, but I believe it will be much more suppressed and hopefully advertisers who were very afraid of fraud will be more comfortable going outside of Google and Facebook.
Another major trend is AI and automation. Google has changed their entire system for promoting mobile apps to stay ahead of the trend. If you want to promote mobile apps these days, you have to use Google Universal campaigns, which leverages machine learning to optimize across all it’s assets (Search, Display, and Youtube).
Similarly, Apple Search Ads platform had introduced a Basic campaign option where advertisers of up to 5000 US dollars can still benefit from advanced technologies like machine learning, without getting too sophisticated and complex.
That being said, the larger companies who spend significant budgets usually need better tools and knowledge to manage and optimize their acquisitions, with more data science on the low end and much more automation that any advertiser can tap into.
Here’s a little infographic to help you understand what Moburst is all about
Another trend is the whole notion of data and user privacy. Before GDPR, there was a big push towards giving advertisers lots of free data in return for digital services. Today, users are more aware of the data collected about them, so much that Facebook took out a lot of the optimization abilities presented to advertisers. So I think on the one hand, advertisers will continue to push towards data-driven advertising, but at the same time, platforms will be more limited in order to maintain their user’s privacy.
Facebook recently announced they will allow users to opt-out of data collected by Facebook advertisers outside of Facebook. If this continues, marketers will need to draw back in some areas, but they would still be able to combine data from their existing users and supplement it in order to find the right type of users for their apps.
Companies who have their customer list use it as a basis for finding similar audiences such as the Facebook lookalike audience tool. Google is also going to offer something similar. Doing that without any in-house user data will become more difficult because the platforms are more concerned with user privacy.
How do you see the evolution of eCommerce in the coming years?
I think we all know e-commerce is going to continue to grow at an expedited rate. There’s so much online shopping going on that the industry is just doubling and tripling it’s growth every single year now.
I think we’re going to see some huge shifts towards prioritizing mobile purchasing over desktop. More and more people are attached to their phones now as opposed to sitting down in front of a computer. Every time they commute, or they’re at a stoplight, they’re on their phone. So I think mobile is going to become so much more important than desktop.
I also think personalization and content are going to be key to marketing and selling products. Consumers really want to feel that the product was made for them, or at least by like-minded people.
Here’s what the JVZoo affiliates dashboard look like from the inside
As far as laws go, I think we’re going to see more and more laws enforced around e-commerce.
We’ve seen in 2019 a bunch of privacy consumer protection laws being pushed forward. Prior to that, we saw GDPR, and I think that’s going to continue to happen as people become more and more educated and governments get more involved.
Speaking of governments, I think we’re going to see governments imposing more and more taxes on e-commerce. They’re going to want their share of the pie, but I hope they will educate themselves before they just randomly write and pass laws.
We’ve seen an unfortunate amount of good ideas, the concept being good, but the actual law being very unclear, like GDPR. No one really knew what was going to happen with it. Everybody just had a try to guess it. You could consult with as many attorneys as you want and they would all tell you it’s just an unclear law. We need to do our best effort to show we’re trying to abide by this unclear law. So I hope we’ll see governments actually consulting, bringing in more people to help them explain stuff before they just randomly throw words on paper to say they did something.
Which AI applications can we expect to see in the coming years?
I think that in the near future, more companies will adopt AI platforms to process data. It’s very easy to collect data from combined services, run it all through an AI platform and see what happens. What are the conclusions AI can bring to the table when they throw the data in?
In some cases, the result will be the same as the old analysis, but in other cases, you will find completely new insights that you didn’t see before. The connection of different types of data introduces a new era of possibilities that we can reach with this technology.
Combining textual data, vision, voice, real-time data about our health and different signals that we produce throughout our lives can result in very interesting insights that can be beneficial to many. I think that AI gives businesses the opportunity to make their service personalized and relevant for users, rather than just one-size-fits-all solutions.
We can easily automate personalized features that until now we did manually, like text analysis; understanding the temperature of conversation in chat or voice calls. Understanding what will fit the user better next time, what kind of additional services or information could be relevant to the user, even if they never asked for it before.
Here’s a summary of what you can expect when working with Initech
In 2016 we saw a great boost in the era of chatbots. This hype has gone down now because of other hypes like blockchain.
AI is the main reason for the rise of chatbots, because it connects people and computers. The hidden change in Chatbots is AI, allowing brands to deliver feature-rich communication in a personalized way. The hype of chatbots had seemingly gone down, but AI is definitely here.
The interfaces that use AI to change over time could be a keyboard, text on our smartphone, voice, and video communication between our devices. In the future, there will be new ways to communicate with our devices but the basic power called AI will endure and be a part of the other revolutions that we’ll see in the near future and later along the line.
People take AI capabilities and connect them to topics like health, marketing, technology, and even the blockchain. Companies take these capabilities and try to see how they can use it in other topics and industries. For now, most AI services and scenarios are still based on old web and mobile apps, but the general trend is to improve them and make them better.
I think that the new way of AI-based services will drive new AI capabilities and produce a new way of interacting with the audience that no one has thought of until now.
How do you envision the future of social media in 5 years from now?
Through marketing even more personalized messages to customers, different figures arise regarding the provisioning of several brands. Experiential marketing and the ability to try, test, feel and get used to products will be a trend in the future since more and more customers build connections with brands, products, and ecosystems.
I also believe we will see a combination of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning becoming smarter and more human-centered. Companies today are trying hard to save money on human resources, but the customers demand a human approach.
At LiveAgent we are mostly focusing on the personal human approach and therefore we believe that live chat will still be around, as the majority of people are not interested in talking to chatbots. We believe that some fields of work will be exchanged by Machine Learning, but mostly it will stay the same.
Here’s what the LiveAgent ticketing system looks like
When the internet started to become a part of our lives, there was a huge leap of technology working for companies, but right now, businesses need to focus on the basics. How do you handle customers? are they satisfied? You need to be involved in the process. Technology can be a very helpful hand, but it will never be a substitute for good customer service.
How do you see the future of social marketing?
We are witnessing the era of social marketing already happening in front of our eyes. People believe people more than they believe businesses or brands, and this trend is only getting stronger.
I believe most marketing in the future will be based on user-generated content and word of mouth, which will become the single most effective marketing channel as the market gets more saturated with brands. People will rely on other people’s opinions in order to make their purchasing decisions.
Here’s what your product reviews would look like if you used Loox
Over the past months, we have been focusing on creating powerful Integrations that extend Loox’s capabilities, optimize the way people use it, and find additional ways to leverage customer reviews. For example, we Integrated with Google Shopping to display reviews on product listings on Google, which has proven to improve conversions. We also integrate with Aftership, a package tracking solution, to enable merchants to send review requests according to the actual delivery date.
How do you see the future of social media marketing five years from now?
It’s hard to say. Unfortunately, I don’t have a crystal ball. But automation is what excites me the most, which is why I work at Chatfuel. I think about Amazon’s Alexa and Tesla’s self-driving cars. The concept of saving time without sacrificing quality fascinates me because it unlocks our human potential. Delegating mundane tasks to something else empowers us to spend our limited time in more meaningful ways. For example, cooking a meal with our kids because we saved time using Instacart instead of shopping for groceries.
This isn’t a groundbreaking prediction, but I believe data-based social media marketing will become even more prominent in the future. Home automation and wearable technologies may bring this vision closer to reality. This data, used responsibly, will enhance relationship-based marketing to new heights. Knowing what your customers want – and why they want it – is one of the keys to long-term success with social media marketing.
All successful businesses are built on the basis of trust. In the modern era of digital marketing, advertising alone will not be enough. You can’t get away with hawking some garbage product or service, because customers are savvy. They look up reviews; They talk to friends. Technology has made it easier and easier to shut down bad actors. So our goal is not only to empower business owners with the marketing tools they need, but also to help them forge meaningful relationships with their customers.
Chatfuel dashboard view
Relationship-based marketing is at the core of century-old brands like Coca-Cola. Rather than using whatever means necessary to make a sale (no matter how unethical), relationship-based marketing will help businesses establish trust, which is their single most valuable asset. Among other benefits, trust increases customers’ brand loyalty and multiplies their lifetime value.
How do you see the future of digital marketing in 5 years from now?
One thing I think is going to be the big game-changer is the way we interact with technology. We’ve been observing voice search. The shift to the most natural way of communication, which is speaking, combined with the advances of virtual assistants like Google Home, Amazon, and Alexa, are going to change things completely. You can see it from Facebook to Amazon to Google, Apple and Samsung, everyone’s pushing their own version of virtual assistants.
I believe that in the future, every room will have a VA installed, receiving voice commands and doing all sorts of services that are already available on our phones and tablets. Websites will need to adapt Voice SEO to be able to interact with those AI assistants, so they can communicate with them.
For example, you may ask the VA where is the nearest pizza place? The website that is most optimized for voice will be the first one to come up and the VA will advertise that business first. Marketing agencies need to make sure they optimize for voice search, after all, it is the fastest growing trend in search technology.
Here’s a summary of what you can get by working with Woww
How do you see the future of IT?
I think that eventually, the data-signed approach will include all the buzzwords: Machine Learning, Artificial intelligence, the blockchain, all of those will eventually rule the computer arena and will become massive solutions.
We can see that technology is going on a huge step ahead; we see connected cars; we see self-navigating airplanes and drones; we see digitized medical devices and general dependence on computers and machines. This is the future, and we cannot avoid it.
I can feel it in our own company because our data science division was 12 lines only one year ago, and today it’s more than 50. You see the demand and what the market is looking for, and everybody is going to that spec. It includes all the relevant technologies, generally referred to as web technology, because everything depends on that.
This real estate app is just one of many example projects by Fayrix
I think that the most intriguing technologies today are anything involving machine learning and computer vision because it involves all popular technologies: Web development, front end, backend, database, etc.
On top of that, I find all the business logic that involves interesting architectures truly fascinating. It’s about understanding how to solve the problem by letting the machine understand, learn and analyze situations, in order to reach an optimal solution that humans cannot reach.
How do you see the future of email marketing in 5 years from now?
This is one of the areas where my viewpoint is considered to be very controversial, but to me, it’s just common sense. In my view and Touchstone’s view, email marketing is about permission and address. If you give me permission to market to you, whether I send you an email, HTML, video, images, text, the only way to make sure you get it is to send it to your email address; it’s the digital equivalent of your home address. Without email, e-commerce would be almost impossible.
Email is here to stay; it will not go away because of its massive scale. It’s the only application that everybody everywhere uses. It’s impossible to imagine someone who has never received or sent an email in the developed world. There are lots of people who never searched the web, but most of them have used email because it’s such a powerful messaging tool. There are about 3+ billion email addresses in the world. For comparison, Facebook only has about 1.5 billion users. That’s the difference.
A quick look at Touchstone dashboard reveals many advantages
Email is not dying; it’s living. What GDPR has done is that it allowed the user to tell the marketer, I want to know what you’re doing with my data. Most people haven’t fully come to terms with what it means for them.
As marketers, we try to make people buy more things. We’re not in business to make people happy; that’s an outcome. If by buying the product you become happier, great. If not, I’ve still got your money. Any marketer will tell you that the biggest group of users are the ones that only buy from you once.
I’ll give you an example of what that means. My business analysis of your behavior shows me that every time I show you a picture of a kitten next to a donut, you will buy a dozen donuts, and you won’t even know why you’re doing it. Let’s say I use that information again and again, and you keep buying donuts until you reach 250 pounds and get a heart attack; that sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Someone might say, hang on, you used my data to make me buy donuts until I gained 150 pounds! That’s what one to one behavioral analysis tries to make you do.
Netflix is the master in using algorithms to understand behavior. They have a category of researchers called Taggers, who write a full description of what’s happening in the movie, so it can later be used to locate the case-specific target audience.
For instance, how do they know that someone who hates romantic comedies will watch this particular one? It has a Ferrari in it. That person probably doesn’t even know that they liked all the movies that had a Ferrari in them.
That’s what one-to-one marketing is trying to get to. If you approach Netflix and say “I want to know how your algorithm is targeting me and what that targeting was”, according to GDPR, they must tell you. Now tell me that you want to do one-to-one marketing!
By comparison, when you send a message to many people, no one can accuse you of using your knowledge of a person’s weaknesses to make them buy more. That is why supermarkets do not use the fact that you buy 1 dozen donuts every day to target you with slimming products. They just put it on a billboard, and it’s up to people whether they buy it or not, so they can easily say ‘I wasn’t targeting you. I was just selling my product“.
So with GDPR, my prediction is that email is going back to the future – back to a more TV and broadcast advertising approach. If your prime focus is behavioral targeting, it will be hard to say that you were “just advertising” and it’s up to the people whether or not to listen to your message.
The whole world is saying the opposite. They are all saying we will only send you messages we know you want or need. In my view, it’s only a matter of time until people understand they have privacy rights and start filing class-action lawsuits against those one-to-one marketers.
How do you see the future of graphic design in 5 years from now?
I think and hope the trend of live filters and superficial images will shift to portray a more authentic and natural style. We are at a point where a photo taken with a smartphone is not a representation of the real world, but an automated machine photoshopped version.
In years to come, we anticipate seeing more seamless designs across different screen sizes and scenarios, communicating with users as they go from a small screen on their wrist, to a medium-sized screen on their phone to the tablet in their car or the desktop in their home. Being able to stay connected with them and provide a flawless experience across all devices will help tools like ours to keep their edge.
On a more general note, I think Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are really changing the game as there is no business that’s going to be left untouched by the advantages they offer. Every simple and repetitive task is going to be done by computers and machines.
Here’s a taste of Pixlr’s photo editing capabilities
With such rapid evolution, there really isn’t much digital marketers can do other than stay on top of things and get themselves familiarized with the emerging technologies that further shape our lives over time. Everybody seems to agree that Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning and automation are going to dominate the way we do business, but how will that take effect? we’ll just have to wait and see!